The internet era has provided consumers with access to a world of golfing options – a world of golfing options where they can find out information, book tee times, accommodation and flights directly. Consumer confidence has never been higher, meaning more and more are taking a direct approach to booking their next round or golfing trip. Having said this, Tour Operators still provide an extremely valuable service to customers and golf businesses alike, so why are a number of golf businesses not engaging with them? The most common thinking is that Tour Operators are only interested in working with marquee courses.

This is not true at all, as the vast majority of Tour Operators I know have a diverse range of clients and are keen to ensure they provide products that will suit their individual tastes and budgets. In addition, it is apparent some golf course administrators feel that the national or international visitor would not choose to play their course when visiting their area. I have been fortunate to have played many fine courses throughout the world including resort, private and public courses, and enjoyed many of the €50 as much as the €150 courses. Something that all golf courses need to remember is they are unique and playing a course situated in a lovely location, in great condition with stunning views (coupled with great service and customer experience) is something any visitor would enjoy. Another issue is the lack of understanding as to how Tour Operators work.

They charge commission on each tee time they book and this is how they generate revenue. The rate provided to the Tour Operator is normally a percentage discount of the full green fee and is known as the ‘net rate’. It is purely up to a club what they offer as a discount, but something to keep in mind is this…. If a golf course has taken the step of engaging with Tour Operators and offer 5% commission and a similar course offers 15%, which one do you think the Tour Operator will promote to their customers? 15% may sound a lot, but a golf business can restrict the number of tee times available at this rate and also the time of day they are available.

Remember the 15% gives your business free advertising and marketing through the Tour Operators website, social media, brochures and other promotional channels they offer and also remember the additional food/beverage/pro-shop spend a visitor will bring to your business! It is also possible to negotiate with the Tour Operator to incentivise them to sell your course – this can be a set percentage commission up to a certain number of golfers booked, with an improved percentage for further golfers. I’m not saying working with Tour Operators suits all golf courses, but it’s worth investigating the opportunity as it could bring valuable new and repeat business to your course.

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